Tough Day

Generally, I like to be positive in spite of obvious limitations in my life as a disabled person. I am proud of the fact that most of the time, my world is as normal as anyone else’s; although it takes a lot of adaptation. All I care about is the end result of considerable effort to prepare my home and car properly for a wheelchair. It goes where I go so it is a priority in my life.

Given the better ease of getting around and going through my routine as a result of enhanced equipment and helpful innovations, there are times when something upsets the balance. One of my pet peeves, and it always makes for a bad day, is when someone parks illegally in the only handicapped space available at my destination. I hate it when these people complain about too many designated spots; they are totally clueless. They just park and run off.

Recently, a friend and I wanted to dine at my favorite restaurant. I know there is handicapped parking right in front. However, there is only one space. If it is occupied by a car with a placard, so be it. If not, I am furious. It happens from time to time. I have to go elsewhere and hope for the best. Let today’s blog be an unvocalized protest about this perennial problem for the disabled who drive. I hope to raise awareness so that those ignorant of the problem will become savvier and more accepting of our needs. Please do not violate the law. Yes, you will get a ticket. Be kind.  You can’t imagine how hard it is for a friend to push me two blocks just to eat. Or how sore my arms get if I wheel myself very far.

Yes, that’s is exactly what happened—a bit of both. The ordeal of coping with an unauthorized vehicle in my handicapped space exhausted me. And don’t say I probably could use the exercise.  I could only think about a hot shower as soon as I got home. The thought of the spraying warmth cooled my temper ironically. However, the temper soon flared when I got home and found that the hot water heater was on the fritz. The plumber from Water Heater Watch promised to come the next morning, but that meant no hot shower that night. Agh! I was so spent at that point that I rushed to my bed.

Of course, this could happen to anyone and is not unique to the disabled. But I could not dash off to the gym as an alternative given the degree of effort in would take in my fatigued physical state. This is the only kind of self-pity I allow myself.

Accessibility through railings

Accessibility is important to anyone who is disabled; I know that from experience. It makes one’s daily life tedious if you have to search for proper accommodations all the time. This pertains to ramps to store entrances, wide aisles in entertainment venues, plenty of space in restaurants for a wheelchair so I can stay put, and acceptable transportation facilities. While accessibility is not always present, I appreciate when an effort has been made. Fortunately, this is the case in most places in Rhode Island. It is a progressive state with considerable social awareness. I am glad to live here.

So I am not here to complain about my home state, but simply to offer a perspective on a disabled life in these parts. I can easily get around, whether I wheel myself or not, and do the things that most people enjoy. I suspect that there was a time early in the last century, when a wheelchair-bound individual had to become a shut in. Not anymore. The world has changed enormously and stigmas have been destroyed. One of the great advancements for the disabled is metal railings. We put them in our homes, but now you can find them in public bathrooms and hotels (near toilets and showers). I can’t say enough about how welding a few bars together has made a difference in our lives.

Metal railings and other helpful constructions have given people like me more independence. We can roam the world on our own. We used to require accompaniment. I can get on a bus or commuter train, have lunch where I want, use public facilities, and more. I can only hope that this type of ease will be available in more areas. For example, with the installation of a walk-in tub, I don’t need a weight lifter to help me bathe.

Metal fabrication is part of other equipment for the disabled, and you only really need a cheap welder like these ones featured on Rate My Welder to get it done. There are a variety of cleverly-designed stand assist patient transports. As I mentioned, those of us in wheelchairs don‘t always want to depend on caregivers to move about. Even if you do have one, loading and unloading is a breeze. You no longer have to pick up the person for even a short distance. Plus, these transports fit through normal hallways and narrow doorways. Some industrial engineer was really doing his job.

Other examples of metal products for the disabled include exercise equipment for the upper body. There are devices for rotating the arms that can be attached to a wheelchair all the way to portable systems like you might find in a gym. Whether for fun or therapy, these devices have improved our lives and made us healthier.

Wheelchair Rental Etiquette

At home in Rhode Island, my life is pretty planned out, like most people disabled or not. I have my routine and my own equipment to get around. When I travel, the situation becomes more complicated. Whatever the mode of transportation, I like to take along a fold-up portable wheelchair model. But lightweight as it is, someone other than me has to tote it. I rely on porters, airline personnel, etc. They are happy to help so it is seldom an issue. But this is not always the case.

One trip I took by air not long ago bordered on the impossible. I was told by the airline that I would have to rent a regulation size wheel chair in order to board and deplane according to their rules. No exception. I could stow my portable version in the cargo area, so it wasn’t going to do me much good. I dutifully agreed to the rental since I did not own the type mandated. But it was more than the extra expense that had me annoyed. You won’t believe the rest of the story.

The last wheelchair available that particular day had a unique problem. It looked and felt fine, but did it ever reek of cigarette smoke. It had been absorbed right into the fabric of the seat and back. I was taken aback. I suppose airing out this type of equipment to ensure there was No More Smoke Smell was not on the airline’s list of daily chores. I was on my own. A considerate fellow passenger suggested some air freshener and ran off to find some in the airport convenience store. Meanwhile, I was waiting patiently sitting in this horror of a smelly chair. Soon enough, my clothes started to smell, too. I couldn’t change until I arrived at my destination, and I loathed the idea of checking into a hotel with an obvious odor.

The helpful Good Samaritan returned and sprayed the area as best he could. I asked for a spritz or two on my pants. That was the extent of what we could do to remedy the ridiculous situation. It was an annoying unforeseen experience and an unpleasant trip.

Besides cigarette smoke (and who thinks of reserving a non-smoking wheelchair?), make sure the equipment available has been inspected. All attachments must be secure and the wheels and parts well oiled so that the movable foot rests, for example, can do their job. No disabled person wants to fear their chair breaking down, especially in a public place. You also have to get the right size for your body. It has to be in good working condition. Don’t assume anything, even with a reputable airline.

What Does the Americans With Disabilities Act Mean to Me?

For many, it’s a thing that they don’t really think about a lot. What have they go to do with whether there exists an Americans with Disabilities Act or not?

For me, Paul, as someone who uses a wheelchair to go on with his daily life, it is as important a thing as you could find.

Let me put it this way- without the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act, my journey in the public school would have been quite different. This is true for so many others like me.

I had a wheelchair right from my childhood. No, I never experienced childhood the way normal people do.

I had met with an accident when I was young, and since then my life changed forever. However, if you thought that physical disability only meant that you weren’t able to move around as freely, it’s not. It’s a lot worse. It’s as if every service that you seem to be privileged for being denied to you – including that of education.

My mother was aiding in packing my summer camp bag when I was no older than eight years. She asked me whether I want to take some storybooks with me. I just looked at her and asked about its necessity as I still did not learn to read at that moment.

She was perplexed after knowing that I am not fond of reading. More than getting upset she was astonished by thinking that how I could have completed the second grade in school without being able to books and my school did not even mention it to her.

She soon found out that our district had actually had cut down spending on providing learning services to children with disabilities. They also could not afford to offer accommodations to such children. There was no math or reading specialist or even a resource room. There were just no separate facilities for testing.

English as a second language or ESL was the only service available at that time outside the classroom. Then my parents had to fight hard against the district to establish and get me tested for learning disabilities. That the state always told that I had no such problem that should warrant a review. My mother was told that she has unrealistic expectations and calm down.

I was really fortunate that my parents were wealthy enough to be able to carry an outside testing which indicated that I do have several learning disabilities. But the School district was still not ready to provide additional services.

They claim that they did not have enough budget for the number of students to implement such new programs. But if they do not have any testing system, how could they know?

My parents moved outside the state with me and for the first time the disabilities I had was recognised and services were given accordingly. I am a living example of the importance of ADA and what it can add to the public school students needing special services. If you I told otherwise then to share my story to prove them wrong.

What People in Wheelchairs Want Others to Know

Now, I have been in a wheelchair for many years, and this is what I have noticed – people just don’t know how to talk to someone who is disabled. It’s almost as if we don’t exist for them, and if you want to make things better for us, please read on.

Try not to applaud them on the head. I know it can be clumsy attempting to make sense of how to welcome them on the off chance that they have no arm or hand development, however, believe me, no developed man or lady needs to be applauded on the head.

Shaking hands

See if they can move their arms and not their hands. When they stretch out their hand to shake your hand, shake it like you would some other individual.

Doing the “daps” thing is alright to approve ish. It relies upon the individual. A real handshake is constantly fine. The individual you are welcome will most likely be unable to open their hand. However, you can at present shake it regularly.

Converse with them

If at an eatery, for instance, on the off chance that you need to know whether a specific seating region is alright for them, ask them, not their partner.

It’s alright to inquire as to whether you can help. If you sense they may require help, inquire as to whether you can. Contingent upon the circumstance, they may decay. Yet, they will quite often welcome the offer. On the off chance that they decay, acknowledge that. Some of the time you can accomplish more damage than great; let them be the judge of that.

Acknowledge that they may not go on a few occasions or places. If they have a feeling that they will cause a disturbance, require more help than they are OK with accepting, or something different, we should regard that.

Regardless of whether you’re willing to help, that still doesn’t make it agreeable for them on occasion. On the flipside, don’t expect they would prefer not to be incorporated into things either. Simply inquire.

Try not to judge them for being late. There’s so much that goes ahead with loss of motion that you can’t envision, so being late even with the best arranging and with sufficient hands-on help happens a considerable amount.

Stop revealing to them they are a motivation. Few out of every odd debilitated individual need to be your motivation.

Did you realize that most deadened individuals really make them feel? It might feel to them like they are wrapped in layers of conduit tape, or it might just consume torment, or it might simply be weight they can detect. However, they may really have fluctuating degrees of sensation in different spots. Or on the other hand, possibly not.

Lovely Restaurant Experience Tonight

Surprisingly, one of the most memorable experiences I have had in any restaurant happened tonight.

I was on a regular midweek restaurant visit. I was ready to head for my vacation after packing all my bags, and just wanted to meet my friends before leaving.

I visited this place where my friend works; it is the first time I dined here because of the price tag it has, just like any other fine dining restaurant.

However, I wanted to start my vacation put some happy note and I told myself, why not? I am really glad that I had taken that decision.

All of us should experience the atmosphere of a fine dining restaurant at least once in a lifetime as the exceptional memory it carries is priceless. After reaching, I got a complimentary valet parking. A nice way to start indeed. The restaurant has a nice floral smell and friendly hostess. They politely asked me whether I had any reservations. My partner drives me around and takes care of me, so moving isn’t much of an issue. Since my friend worked there, they knew I would come in a wheelchair, and gave us the largest table with plenty of space. Four people in a table of ten, during the rush hours – it just showed they cared.

As I was visiting one of my friends who is one of the employees of the restaurant, I told them that I do not have any reservations. The luxury Ambience of the restaurant is just amazing. High ceilings contain bright chandeliers, and natural light is keeping inside a restaurant in an amazing way combining with the artificial ones.

The overall atmosphere of the restaurant is beautiful. There is also Food bar inside the restaurant. You can also observe the activities inside the kitchen, a great place to visualise your foods getting prepared.

As a first time guest at the restaurant, I got a complimentary appetizer. I received a sake Martini with my tuna roll. The spicy roll was awesome. Then I opt for the crab cake, one of my favourites and the presentation and taste of the dish was mouthwatering. Every bite was melting in my mouth.

After that, they changed my dining sets, and I found hard to control my excitement when I saw the rice noodles arriving with a tropical spritzer. The hot stream was rising from my plate with an inviting smell of mushrooms and soy sauce. The noodles were so soft and tasty. I remain mesmerized with the heavenly experienced.

The dining experience was so stunning with exclusive service and well-executed dishes. It created a warm memory for me before going for the long trip. Everyone should treat them with a fine dining experience for their memories, and the restaurant just served me that.

What I really loved though, was their personal touch. They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, and they asked me what I needed regularly. I have seen even waiters at other places trying to talk to my partner and avoid me, so yes, it is something that made me feel ‘normal’.

And I am sure most of my other disabled friends would agree, that actually is a big deal.

Having a Ramp Out Front Isn’t All I Need

Ever noticed that beautiful ramp created outside important buildings to facilitate entry to people with disabilities? It’s also how we get into buses, and it doesn’t take long.

Sure, it’s great. It does make things more accessible for me. But here is my question – is it the only thing I need?

We often remain so ignorant about the need of a person with certain disabilities, a reason we are a population without a voice.

Perhaps, sometimes, people need to listen to other voices. Voices that speak of their problems. Voices that tell what that person feels wrong. And voices that think about their problems. If we did a little more of that instead of just looking at our own problems, perhaps the world would be a better place.

We are now above 25 years beyond the path of ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act) – which got passed in 1990. And yet, how far or how little have we come?

The Need to Look at the Real Problems

We currently need to move beyond the wheelchair ramp while access to ADA still not all as it should be. Now the time has come we start listening to those people who are living with disabilities. They are living as a complete human being just like others the people with abilities.

What is your perception of disability? It is not easy to always answer this simple question. There are individuals living with the laws of expected physiological function or form and impairments. An individual without a lake or a person with incorrectly developed optic nerve or an individual who sustained a severe brain injury all have some form of disabilities.

A disability may be referred as the consequences of the following impairments: memory issues, blindness, and the loss of walking. On the other hand, handicap means the social disadvantage that results from an impairment.

Still, we fail to talk, take responsibility and act for individuals with disabilities. It’s not that we need pity – no. Instead, all we want is understanding. We want you to know that we still enjoy life, and still yearn to live. And for all of it, we need a society which is disabled friendly.

When we talk or communicate with people having a disability we fail to show them enough compassion.

Did you know that many disabled people are killed by none other but their parents? It’s a disturbing trend, and it happens because people around us do not seem to accept us as their own.

Or did you know that it’s difficult to do even the simplest of things you feel privileged for – like education? If we cannot cook or walk, educational institutions may not give us admissions simply because they do not want to be ‘overburdened’.

Oh, let us suppose that I did manage to get my college degree. What after that? Who would give a job to a disabled? The number of jobs for disabled people is really marginal compared to their population, and even if they can do work, it’s difficult to find an employer willing to take them on. I cannot work for instance, but I can use my hands – and yet, no matter which job I went to, I was refused – for a long time.

It’s time to change how you perceive people with disabilities. Think of us as your own, and only then can things change.